Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate is a digital certificate for internet security. It is basically used to build an encrypted connection between a browser and a server. This certificate protects sensitive data such as credit card information, passwords which are used in specific websites.

It creates a reliable connection between your visitors and website by showing them your website value their privacy. In this article, you will learn about how to get an SSL certificate for free of cost in three different methods.

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How to get an SSL certificate for Free from Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a CDN( Content Delivery Network) and internet security provider. You can get a free SSL certificate even if you are using the free plan. These are the steps you need to follow in order to know “how to get an SSL certificate for free from Cloudflare”?

  • First, go to “cloudflare.com” or search for Cloudflare on Google. Click on the search result which leads you to Cloudflare.com
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  • Register for a new account (if you do not have one) and log in to your account by entering your email address and password.
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  • After logging in you need to enter your site URL on the blank text box and click on “Add site”.
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  • Once you add your site to Cloudflare the next step will be setting the nameserver recommended by Cloudflare in your domain control panel. After changing the nameservers it will take a few minutes to direct your domain to Cloudflare. 
  • When Cloudflare completes the fetching process you will see the dashboard. Now click on the “SSL/TLS” icon.
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  • When you click on SSL it will ask to choose between three different types of certificates including the disable option which you can use to disable the Cloudflare SSL in the future.
  • You can either choose a flexible SSL certificate of a full SSL certificate.
  • The “flexible certificate” provides you basic encryption between the traffic and browser.
  • The “full certificate” provides you to enable end to end encryption with a self-signed certificate on the server.
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  • After selecting the full certificate, in a couple of minutes, you will be able to get a secured (HTTPS) connection on your website.
  • For example, I use a full Cloudflare certificate on wpblogging.in which says the connection is secured once you click on the lock icon of site URL (in chrome browser).

How to get an SSL certificate for Free by installing a plugin

In case you do not want to activate Cloudflare SSL there is an alternate way to assign a free SSL certificate to your website. You have to install one plugin which is available on WordPress repository that is free to use.

I am not going to tell you that these plugins won’t be vulnerable to your website, nevertheless, I have not heard anything related to these plugins that may cause harm to your site. If you believe they do you can immediately uninstall the plugin from your site and the problem will be solved immediately.

Returning to the primary point, these are the couple of steps that you will need to follow in order to activate an SSL certificate with the help of a WordPress plugin.

  • First of all, go to your WordPress dashboard, click on plugins, and select “Add new”.
  • The look for the search bar and search for “SSL”.
  • There will be multiple plugins that provide SSL but make sure that the plugin itself provides SSL and you do not have to install one manually using the plugin.
  • In this tutorial, I am using the “Free SSL certificate for WordPress” plugin developed by SSL Zen.
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  • Install the plugin and activate it.
  • It will actually generate, varifies and install an SSL certificate on your site from LetsEncrypt (LetsEncrypt provides free SSL certificates)
  • Once you activate the plugin it will redirect you to the installation wizard.
  • There you have to input your website URL (Make sure the URL you input is the domain name where the plugin is currently installed)
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  • The next step is the verification step where you have to perform a few technical tasks, however, they are easy to follow. (Go through the mentioned steps or you can follow the video guide provided by the plugin itself).
  • First, open your web hosting file manager or access to your website files by using any FTP client.
  • On the root folder look for “public_html” and inside public_html create a new folder “.well-known“.
  • Inside “.well-known” create another new folder called “acme-challenge“.
  • Now come back to your SSL plugin configuration window & download the provided file.
  • Upload the file to the “acme-challenge” folder and click on verify inside the installation wizard.
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  • The next step is to install the SSL certificate.
  • In this step, you will need to login to the cPanel of current Webhosting.
  • Follow the step by step guides provided by the plugin which will help you to install the certificate inside the security section of the web hosting.
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  • After installing the certificate, you will need to enable a few options to start serving your site over SSL.
    • Now enable the redirection for all the incoming HTTP to HTTPs.
    • Change your site URL and Home URL to HTTPs.
    • Fix insecure content warning by replacing the HTTP to HTTPs.
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  • When you will submit the configurations you will get a confirmation message that your SSL certificate is now activated on the website. By default, the SSL certificate will hold 90 days validation period.
  • You can renew the SSL certificate as soon as it reaches the maximum lifetime.
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So this is how to get an SSL certificate for free using a WordPress plugin. A similar process can be done directly from web hosting to enable the LetsEncrypt SSL certificate. Regardless of the procedure, having an SSL certificate is very necessary for a website, a free one does not provide full security still enough to protect your site and the request of the visitors as well.

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